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Found Inspiration – Revisiting Audre Lorde

Found Inspiration is a series inspired by a prompt at the start of our meetings where we invite therapists to share an unconventional not explicitly therapy-related influence on their clinical practice. We’ve found that when your experiences aren’t reflected in academic settings and literature, and when you expand your understanding of mental health care beyond a medical model to one of healing, meaning-making and connection, you have to build your own canon.

We previously highlighted Audre Lorde as an inspiration for our therapeutic praxis, but there are as many ways as there are therapist at MCM Collaborative to describe her influence, so we’re at it again.

This time, Jordan tells us about how Lorde has provided her a lens for her clinical approach:

I come to this work with a deep belief that personal wellness is integral to collective liberation. As a clinician and a person I draw inspiration from the words and works of several Black feminist writers, especially Audre Lorde. Her work sought to highlight interpersonal impacts of systems of oppression such as sexism, racism, classism and homophobia. Lorde and her contemporaries provided language to my strong conviction that self-actualization, emotional attunement and pleasure are not frivolous or separate from political pursuits of freedom. This message is especially important to me as a Black femme providing services to Black femmes. Lorde’s exploration of how Black femmes experience feelings like anger, pleasure, and love encourages me to help my clients give themselves permission to revel in the full range of their human experience.

“We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit because what was native has been stolen from us, the love of Black women for each other But we can practice being gentle with each other by being gentle with that piece of ourselves that is hardest to hold, by giving more to the brave bruised girlchild within each of us, by expecting a little less from her efforts to excel. We can love her in the light as well as in the darkness, quiet her frenzy toward perfection and encourage her attentions toward fulfillment. As we arm ourselves with ourselves and each other, we can stand toe to toe inside that rigorous loving and begin to speak the impossible – or what has always seemed like the impossible – to one another. The first step toward genuine change.”- Audre Lorde, “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger,” Sister Outsider